Mar 052013

Spring is the time when high school seniors (and their parents) make final decisions about college for the fall. Students who are considering a career in nursing have multiple options and pathways to become a nurse. So, which path will you choose?

Traditional BSN Students
Traditional students who enter East Carolina University as first-year students devote two years to pre-requisite courses before they apply to the College of Nursing. Admitted nursing students begin taking nursing classes in their junior year. Students who bring in transfer hours or Advanced Placement hours may apply to the nursing major early.

FPNLLV: Making ECU Feel like a Small School
Traditional first-year ECU students may apply to live in a learning community for intended nursing majors. Future Pirate Nurse Living and Learning Village students live in one residence hall and are registered for several pre-requisite classes together. Students say the village-model helps them adjust to university life and makes the university seem like a much smaller environment. Registration is now open for the 2013-2014 FPNLLV, and the Future Pirate Nurse Living and Learning Village application is available on the College of Nursing web site.

ECU also offers RIBN (Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses), an option that allows students to enroll at the university and an area community college at the same time. In this partnership, students take classes at both schools and earn an associate degree and a bachelor degree in four years. RIBN is often less expensive than attending the traditional on-campus program at ECU.

RN-BSN Option
The RN-BSN Option is for students who complete a two year associate degree nursing program in a community college and return to school to get their bachelor of science in nursing degree. RN-BSN students are Registered Nurses who are seeking the BSN. The curriculum is 100% online, allowing students to work while they go school.

Even though there are several pathways to become a Pirate Nurse, all of the options guarantee that students will have a first-rate experience at a university with a strong record of nursing excellence. ECU graduates more new nurses than any school in North Carolina, and our graduates score high pass rates on the NCLEX-RN national licensure exam.

Which path will you choose?

Jan 112013

Are you looking for a nursing program that is affordable and convenient?

We are accepting applications for the ENC RIBN project (Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses). RIBN is a partnership between East Carolina University, Beaufort County Community College, Lenoir Community College, Pitt Community College and Roanoke-Chowan Community College where students are enrolled at both a community college and ECU.

Here is a snapshot of the project:

RIBN Features for the Community Colleges:

  • Completion of general education course requirements and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Nursing (AAS) at a designated local community college.
  • Community college counselors and advisors available for assistance.

RIBN Features for East Carolina University:

  • Completion of BSN degree within 4 years.
  • Student success advocate available for assistance.
  • Less expensive than attending the on-campus program at ECU.

You can visit the RIBN website at or contact Kelly Cleaton ( ) for complete information. Applications for the group that begins in August are due Jan. 31.

Sylvia T. Brown, EdD, RN, CNE
Dean and Professor
East Carolina University College of Nursing

Oct 162012

One of the strategies to reduce the nursing shortage and the impact the shortage will have on patient care is to prepare more masters and PhD nursing graduates who are qualified to teach in colleges in universities. Without new faculty to replace retiring faculty, it will be impossible to graduate enough new nurses to fill positions as older nurses retire. The average nurse is over 48 years old and retirement is just around the corner for many.

ECU’s PhD in Nursing Program is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and the celebration is more about the success of our students than the longevity of the program. There have been 19 graduates from the program since it began in 2002.

The doctor of philosophy degree in the College of Nursing is a research degree that prepares nurses to serve as leaders, researchers and educators. Our PhD graduates hold positions as chief nursing officers of hospitals, leaders of research projects, and faculty at universities. There are 29 students currently enrolled in the PhD in Nursing Program.

The program’s history includes leadership by nursing experts such as Dr. Judy Bernhardt, Dr. Therese Lawler, and Dr. Martha Alligood. The current program director is Dr. Marie Pokorny. For more information about the PhD in Nursing Program, contact Dr. Pokorny at

Sylvia T. Brown, EdD, RN, PhD
Dean, ECU College of Nursing


Jul 032012

A recent story in the New York Times noted that many hospitals around the country have started to require that their nurses have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. More stringent hiring requirements have contributed to a surge in enrollment at four-year colleges, particularly those with RN to BSN programs.

In recent years, ECU has seen an increase in the number of applicants to the College of Nursing’s RN to BSN option which is designed with the working registered nurse in mind.

Sixty-six people applied and 47 were admitted in fall 2010. Last fall, 78 applied and 64 were admitted. For classes starting this August, 86 out of 94 applicants have enrolled.

Nurses are returning for various reasons.

Most say they are returning for personal satisfaction. Other reasons include, but are not limited to, encouragement from their employers and career advancement.

On average, students graduate from our RN/BSN option in four to five semesters. Thirty-three students graduated in spring 2011, and another 33 graduated this May.

Professional organizations and groups such as the Institute of Medicine have advocated for an increase in nurses who hold a BSN degree or higher due to the challenges of health care in the 21st century which requires nurses to care for older, more diverse populations with more complex and chronic diseases.

The RN to BSN option has been included in several potential programs for expansion and partnership. Faculty and staff have been active members in planning the Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses or RIBN project for eastern North Carolina. It’s modeled after a program in western North Carolina. ECU is working with Pitt, Beaufort, Lenoir and Roanoke-Chowan community colleges  to provide a seamless transition from the community college setting to the university while earning ADN and BSN degrees. The first cohort of students begins this fall.

The shift in nursing education to meet the challenges of the 21st century requires competencies in leadership, health policy, systems, research and evidence-based practice, and community and public health.

-Dr. Sylvia Brown RN, BSN, MSN, EdD, CNE
Dean of the ECU College of Nursing




May 292012

These days, the buzz in nursing education is technology. USA Today  recently asked whether technology has changed the content in our nation’s nursing schools. The answer is two-fold: technology provides new opportunities for nursing students and technology creates additional questions that must be answered.

East Carolina University’s College of Nursing is located in a modern, tech savvy building that has eight clinical laboratories for student practice. Each lab contains life-like manikins that can be programmed to replicate just about any condition from childbirth to heart attack. Students have the opportunity to practice new skills in a controlled, safe environment.

Today, most nursing students do not remember a time when computers were not part of their lives. The equipment in these labs mirrors the equipment in hospitals where new graduates will work. Even the software in the bedside computers is similar to the charting software in hospitals and medical offices around the country. Learning on the real thing gives today’s nursing students a leg up when they enter the workforce. As expected, millennial students excel using advanced technology, but does this make them better nurses?

Dr. Frances Eason, a longtime ECU Nursing professor, keeps her students grounded by teaching them how to care for their patients without depending on technology. Calculators are not allowed in her tests—she reasons that a patient can die in the amount of time it takes a nurse to find a calculator to figure a drug calculation or IV dosage. But, what about accuracy? She believes technology should be used only after students learn how to solve problems by clinical reasoning. Often, we rely on calculators but really do not know how to set up the calculations in the first place!

Many providers now use handheld computers to input patient data and to research diagnoses and medication. While students learn how to use these devices, we stress the importance of the credibility of the information they can access. Handhelds provide instant access to information, but students must learn how to distinguish between good and bad information.

Technology is certainly exciting and a huge asset in nursing education, but this advantage comes with strings. Students must be taught traditional nursing skills to be able to interpret and use the technology. And, they must learn to question the credibility and validity of the technology. For this, students will continue rely on a blend of critical thinking and technology.

–Dr. Sylvia T. Brown, Dean
College of Nursing